With the release of the All-Star reserves on Thursday, the rosters are set for the game in Toronto on Valentine’s Day (the NBA hates when basketball fans date non-basketball fans, apparently). Every year that moment happens, the talk of who got snubbed starts up immediately after the votes are tallied among the various Conference coaches and the reserves are revealed.
There are a handful of players arguably deserving of spots this year (though the coaches did a pretty good job), and we’re making a starting five out of them, if only to imagine a scenario in which a Surprise Third Team emerges at half time to challenge whichever conference is winning. You want to draw more viewers in, NBA? You want to get people to change their reservations at Le Chez Romantique for you? Then grab the five guys we’ve picked below and tell them to suit up. These are the DIME Alternative All-Stars.
First, a brief reminder of who actually made the team.
East: Kyle Lowry, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, John Wall, Jimmy Butler, Andre Drummond, Paul Millsap, Chris Bosh, DeMar DeRozan, Isaiah Thomas
West: Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kobe Bryant, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, James Harden, Draymond Green, DeMarcus Cousins, LaMarcus Aldridge, Klay Thompson, Anthony Davis
Guard: Damian Lillard
Dame is almost certainly the biggest victim of Kobe Bryant’s selection by fan vote. Lillard is the only piece left of the five-man core that was at times one of the best starting lineups in the NBA over the past few seasons, and all he’s done is shoulder a larger burden, upping his usage rate from 26.9 percent last year to 31, seventh in the league without any significant drop in efficiency — he’s actually improved from behind the arc while attempting one more per game. Offensively, he’s one of the very best point guards in the league.
The problem with Lillard is that point guard is a STACKED position in the NBA right now, and there are guys with better defensive reputations. Chris Paul, Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook share a conference with Dame, and it’s hard to build a case that he deserves a spot over any of those three. Four point guards on a roster of 12 just wouldn’t be right — but if Dame shows up on the court, he can outscore anybody on either side on the right night.